March 4th, 2013


Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas

Longtime comic fans are familiar with the legend of Mark Waid and the comic convention that wasn't.  Long story short, Waid was contacted to be the guest of honor at a comic book show.  He was flown out, and the "organizers" just drove him around town.  Turns out, there wasn't a show at all, they just wanted to hang with their favorite writer.  (I say "legend" because Waid told it as fact for years, but others have tried to disprove the story, and Waid is now not only denying the story, but repeating it is a sure way to get on his shit list.  I know the risk I'm taking here, but I'm trying to make a point.)

Now, that's scary because Waid was just a hop skip and a jump away from starring in an updated version of Misery.  But it does underscore the fact that you need to be careful if you work the convention circuit.  As Rick Olney proved, it takes nothing to throw together official looking stuff for a convention then stiff people, keeping the money for yourself.  Lots of us assumed that Olney would forever be the biggest bitch in the convention world.

Nope.  We have a new winner, one that succeeded in ways Olney never dreamed of.  Keep reading to learn the tragic story of Las Pegasus Unicon.

So, there's this cartoon show called My Little Pony -- Friendship Is Magic.  Maybe you've heard of it.  When the show exploded in popularity, all sorts of pony cons popped up.  Everfree, Bronycon, Equestria LA, this stuff is everywhere.  And among them were a group of people who decided to put on Las Pegasus Unicon.

Now, I know few of my fine and upstanding readers have done the convention thing as pros, if any have done the con thing, it's as a regular attendee.  Nonetheless, I'm curious to see how many red flags for this convention you can spot.

Now, let's deal with the convention organizers.  The staff had a bunch of the usual volunteers from the pony fandom, but who was in charge was not really easy to dig up.  Eventually, it was found to be headed by a couple of guys with a reputation for scamming the local pagan community.

Red flag achtung

Everybody who is anybody in the pony community, including those normally ostracized like Purple Tinker, were welcomed to attend.   Representatives from Everfree, Equestria LA, and Bronycon couldn't wait to get there.  The organizers even contacted Hasbro, and not only got Hasbro to give them some major cash in consideration, but also coordinated to get damn near everybody involved in the show's production there.  John de Lancie (Discord, host of the brony documentary) would be there.  Tara Strong (voice of Twilight Sparkle) would be there.  Daniel Ingram (music composer) would be there.  Andy Price (artist on the comic book series) would be there.  This was going to be huge.

Just one thing:  the organizers were going to pay everyone out of gate.  In other words, after the show when the attendance money came in.  That is NOT done in professional convention circles.  You never base your budget on gate, only on dealers buying space, advertising, and so on.  Most pros hear "reimbursement" and will run for the hills with shotgun in tow, ready to send an assful of lead if you follow.  So, major fandom stars and the people in the production of the show, all paying out of their own pocket and they'd be paid back afterward.

red-flag 1

So, the convention started just this past Friday.

And everything went straight to Hell.

Attendance was almost nil.  There was no real attempt to bring in the crowds.

Tara Strong arrived at the airport and no one was there to meet her.  She wound up taking a cab at her own expense to get to the hotel.


5000 pamphlets were supposed to be made.  Estimates are there were less than 100, with pages of ads missing and the word "vendor" frequently misspelled.  Daniel Ingram was credited as a voice actor.  Mitch Larson's name was misspelled "Larsen."

Red Flag Brand_jpg

There were no meal tickets included for the guests of the con.  And there were "lunatokens."  Actual pony currency, could be used just like real money!  You gave your real money to them, they hand-drew the currency on the spot, with no contract or agreement in place to recover any money you did not spend.


The money raised at the charity auction were funneled directly into the convention organizer's personal PayPal account.  There were no records kept of the money transfers.


On Saturday night, the organizers skipped town.  They were gone.  The hotel hadn't received any of the promised money, and were not only charging the talent and con goers the full room rate instead of the special convention discount rate, and anyone who didn't was given the bum's rush, even the talent from the show.  The hotel also started confiscating items from the dealer's room in hopes of recovering some money.  Tara Strong and others who got checks found them bouncing once they got home (it has been confirmed that Strong has fired her agent.  I would hope so).  The organizers surfaced on line to blame the whole thing on the hotel.

Estimates are the con pulled in $150,000.  The hotel is demanding $193,000 for the whole shebang.

A car named Edsel.  A zeppelin called the Hindenburg.  A ship called the Titanic.

And a MLP-FiM convention called Las Pegasus Unicon....